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The last disc of Haibane Renmei is aptly subtitled Day of Flight and begins with a summary of what has gone before, provides a glimpse of the darkness to come, and Rakka resolves to save Reki at any cost.

As Rakka works she recalls the events of the winter from Kuu’s Day of Flight through The Bird to her escape from the Circle of Sin.  Rakka also acknowledges that Reki is still Sin Bound.  Reki is seeing off one of the Young Feathers, Dai, who is going to visit the Abandoned Factory. 

Reki’s farewell to Dai is oddly formal and subdued.  Rakka and Dai walk off as Reki silently watches from amongst the other Young Feathers.  This scene carries the same sense of finality as Kuu’s farewells but without the joy or serenity. 

It is an uncomfortable end to the tag in as the credits roll.

Rakka chats with Dai [1] as they walk through Glie towards the abandoned factory.  Dai wonders if something wrong with Reki, that she’s been really quiet recently.  I think that this is the moment when Rakka realises that Reki may not have much time left.

The Abandoned Factory is exactly what it says on the tin, and doesn’t look like an inviting place to live.  Nemu was right when she described the boys there as “rowdy”, that trick with the firecrackers wasn’t very nice at all.

The girls are much friendlier, and appreciate the treats that Hikari made.  As Hyohko teaches Dai to skateboard, the other girls mention some trouble or history keeping Old Home and Abandoned Factory apart.

After Rakka leaves Midori catches her on the bridge to return Reki’s umbrella.  Midori spills some of her dirt on Reki, but I’m not sure how reliable it is [2].  I’m also not sure how true it is that Midori “forgot” to return the umbrella at Abandoned Factory – I suspect that was an excuse to get Rakka alone.

As Rakka is working she tries to deal with Midori’s gossip.  At first Rakka simply denies it, but then realises how much Reki was hurting after Kuu’s Day of Flight.  Despite her own pain, Reki was there for Rakka to lean on.

Between the tag in and this scene I suspect that the inside of the walls is where Rakka will be doing her truly deep thinking.  I think that, for Rakka anyway, the ethereal environment within the solid walls helps her to see things that she would otherwise miss.

Keeping a hold of the raft next time might be a good idea though.  🙂

Rakka does manage to catch the raft but ends up at a particularly shiny, column covered in light leaves.  Rakka again notices the odd letters but then gets the sense of… something passing by overhead.  There are drops in the canal, and eerie laughter all around, but nothing is seen.

When Rakka enters the temple after completing her work the Communicator informs her that Reki has come to pick Rakka up. Rakka and the Communicator walk out to meet Reki: this is when the Communicator truly starts using Rakka to save Reki.

A former Haibane?

He tells Rakka the truth: that Reki’s time is nearly over, that there isn’t a Bird to save her, and what happens to the Haibane who do not achieve Flight.  Such Haibane lose their wings and halos, and must live apart from both humans and Haibane in a quiet, peaceful but lonely life.

Hearing this as you look at the fake wings on the Communicator’s uniform is chilling.  Certainly Rakka doesn’t particularly like what she’s hearing.  The Communicator also admits that his attempts to help Reki have failed.

Rakka wants to help but the Communicator does not let Rakka dodge the truth: saving Reki means parting with her, possibly forever.  He asks if Rakka is prepared to pay that price.

What price redemption?

As Reki and Rakka return to Old Home on the scooter they discuss Midori, and Rakka notices Reki’s halo flicker for the first time.

The next day Nemu stumbles into breakfast with a cold. Reki is nowhere to be seen,  as she has been painting a lot – Hikari is taking over her job of cooking for the Young Feathers. 

Reki’s withdrawal from the other Haibane is becoming obvious but the contrast with Kuu’s approaching Day of Flight couldn’t be sharper.  Where Kuu connected more (Rakka’s coat and room), Reki is connecting less.

Rakka heads into town to let the library know that Nemu is sick.  Whilst there Rakka notices the fossilised book and runs into Sumika.  According to Sumika it was found in a ruins in the Western Wood, and speculates on what they mean.  Sumika points out that they almost look like someone’s hands.

Cynical Reki?

Leaving the library Rakka sees Reki watching Dai and Hyohko across the river.  There is a moment of doubt when Midori’s gossip plays in her mind but Rakka overcomes it and greets her.

The expression on Reki’s face here is surprisingly cynical, and I’m not sure what to make of it.  Possibly it is acceptance that Reki won’t be saved before putting up a front for Rakka’s benefit [3]?

But this time Rakka recognises the front for what it is. Rakka wishes for tomorrow to never come, to be with Reki forever. 

Reki continues to withdraw by saying that nothing lasts forever, and that is what makes the current moment to precious.

Rakka heads to the Temple to work but collapses crying on the way.  This is the moment when Rakka is trying to make herself smile to help Reki, but can’t manage it when she’s alone. 

I think that this is also the moment when Rakka resolves to do whatever it takes to save Reki, even if she has no idea how to do that.

As Reki returns to Old Home she cares for the sleeping Nemu, says thank you, and admits that she isn’t going to make it to Kuramori’s world.  Nemu wakes and says “Reki”.

The last scene is Reki saying it is time to end it as she enters the hidden room to finish painting something.

The sequence of the lid of the tin rolling around and trailing black paint behind it is chilling.

The episode ends as the door to the hidden room closes.

Two elements of the episode title are not directly referred to in dialogue but it is fairly obvious that both are Reki [4]. The bulk of this episode is about the darkness in Reki’s heart, and how irreplaceable Reki is to Rakka.

Parting – Darkness in the Heart – Irreplaceable Thing is a very tightly focussed episode, and if it had a single title it would simply be Reki. Reki’s withdrawal from the other Haibane in this episode is just sad, made even more so by only Dai, Rakka and Nemu noticing.

Overall Parting – Darkness in the Heart – Irreplaceable Thing feels like a prologue that reveals the challenges to come, that sets up the game pieces on the board, but doesn’t really move things forward. 

There are really only two things happening here: Reki is accepting defeat, and Rakka is resolving to save her.  Overall this is a balanced episode that leaves the viewer wondering which way it will all end.

Day 1 – Cocoon – Dream of Falling from the Sky – Old Home
Day 2 – Town and Wall – Toga – Haibane Renmei
Day 3 – The World of Haibane Renmei
Day 4 – Temple – Communicator – Pancakes
Day 5 – Trash Day – Clock Tower – Birds Flying Over the Walls
Day 6 – Gender and Haibane Renmei
Day 7 – Library – Abandoned Factory – The Beginning of the World
Day 8 – End of Summer – Rain – Loss
Day 9 – Dub vs Sub?
Day 10 – Scar – Illness – Arrival of Winter
Day 11 – The Bird
Day 12 – The Sound of Charcoal Feathers
Day 13 – Well – Rebirth – Riddle
Day 14 – Kuramori – Haibane of Abandoned Factory – Rakka’s Job
Day 15 – Who Were They Before They Were Haibane?
Day 16 – Parting – Darkness in the Heart – Irreplaceable Thing
Day 17 – Bell Nuts – Passing of the Year Festival – Reconciliation
Day 18 – ???
Day 19 – Reki’s World – Prayer – Reconciliation
Day 20 – Looking Back At Haibane Renmei

 



[1] There’s another of those strange side effects of the amnesia: the smell of the river reminds Rakka of something but of course she can’t remember what.


[2] It also isn’t shown in detail.  This is a neat trick as it helps the viewer doubt Reki as well.


[3] Again. Or is that still?


[4] For that matter the one that is directly referred to, Parting, is also about Reki.